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Natural Causes: Inspector McLean 1
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on 15 June 2017
Thought I would try a new author. As an avid fan of Stuart Macbride (Logan McRae series only) and Peter James I have read all their books so far and am up to date until the next paperback in the series is available. I only read British crime writes as I can't stand the American over dramatised books, plus at least you can visualise the areas Brit writers base the stories in. This has an element of supernatural and some have found it unnecessary and not suited to the story. I found it worked well. I liked this Inspector McLean, there is also a character called Stuart Macbride this could be a little tribute to the author who apparently inspired James Oswald. Good characters, a bit of humour and lots of crime, some reference to violence and gore but not overdone. So far so good with this series, have ordered 2,3 & 4. I usually find that with a series it takes 2 -3 books to get used to a new writer and also to get the characters embedded in your mind by which time you get to know them all and their little ways
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on 7 May 2017
Inspector McLean is similar to John Rebus in so many ways. They even work out of some of the same police stations, so they must have met! But in McLean's cases there is an element of the supernatural similar to the Dennis Wheatley character The Duke De Richleau. There is never sufficient overt supernatural activity to alert his superiors, but we know that not everything can be put down to natural causes.
McLean may have become a multimillionaire over night on the death of his grandmother, but he's no dilettante. A clever, hard working detective given to flashes of inspiration and labouring under an obnoxious, lazy senior officer. He does not let his new found wealth change his way of life much or interfere with his work.
One warning however, read these books in order. I found the third in the series, The Hangman's Song, first and read it. It contains multiple spoilers for the first two books.
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I think we all know the story behind James Oswald, and how he suddenly became so popular thanks to this book. So here we meet for the first time Anthony McLean, newly promoted to detective inspector. With his gran dying and a bit of a dull private life so Tony finds all hands to the pumps at work.

There are strange killings going on in the city of Edinburgh, but for DI McLean he is given some burglaries and a corpse of a young lady, who died about sixty years before, and was found whilst building work was carried out. With no identification and a death that has the hallmarks of a ritual occult sacrifice so it would look like he more than has his hands full.

What is good about this is that it has that noir feeling to it, but it also highlights the sort of politics that go on in the police force, where if someone senior can blame someone junior for mistakes then they will. Our Tony though doesn’t play that sort of game as he just wants to get on with his job. As we read this we also get a good grasp of the character of our Detective Inspector, and the other main characters that appear in further novels.

With a good solid story which makes you think and try to solve the crimes this also has a little unsettling quirky ‘extra’ in the idea that perhaps things also involve the supernatural, although it could just be people who believe in such things and perhaps have gone a little mad.

In all this is a solid read and one that grips you from the very beginning as we follow all the twists and turns to the conclusion.
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on 23 December 2017
If you are put off by some reviews that emphasize this as an occult story rather than a crime novel, don't be. There is an occult element to it, but it in no way makes this a novel about the occult, it is a police procedural; and a very good one at that.
Parts are quite graphic but it is in context and certainly not gratuitous.
I thought the book was very well written and held my interest throughout and I was sorry to reach the end, which h for me always indicates a very good read.
The only reason I gave it 4 and not 5 was the rather anti-climatic ending, although I presume that the author has deliberately left us wanting to learn more of Inspector McLean's family history.
Looking forward to reading more in the series.
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on 28 December 2017
I haven't read many books in my life. And I sure do not have the patience to read long novels. But this one just took me for a ride.
I couldn't stop reading it. Every time I stopped, I just had to get back to reading it where I left. It was like I was looking forward to finishing the book. I haven't read any book this fast.
I like detective stories. And this one has more than just regular crime so it was pretty damn interesting how the story unraveled.
There are plenty of characters but you will not really forget any of them. Every introduction would give you enough detail to remember them.
I almost felt like I visited Edinburgh having read this. A bit of Scottish accent in the dialogues, which I'm sure I wouldn't have understood if I had only heard someone speak. I am sure in such an instance I would wish I had subtitles. And the author cleverly did just that. So I could imagine the advent in my head when reading some of the dialogues. The aren't many such dialogues anyway. A bit of Glaswegian and Aberdeen-ian ( if that's even a word).
I think I finished this book in two days.
I even got goosebumps (out of fear and excitement in anticipation of what might come next) reading some of the scary scenes.
It wasn't a very twisted story so it didn't keep me guessing who was responsible. And I'm sure you'd guess the criminal from the pattern halfway through the book. But what kept me going was how McLean would get to putting it all together.
I don't know how to give a 3.5 so I'm going to give a 4.
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on 26 July 2017
A thoroughly enjoyable story, introducing us to DI McLean & his team. I say this despite the unusual use of demonic possession, in a murder story, as the reason for the slaughter of the guilty as well as the innocent. It left this reader questioning the unresolved paedophilia possibility as a root cause, when seemingly introduced then forgotten about. It might seem that I am adding a critique against this novel, but nothing could be further from the truth. I found the storyline held my interest from the first page to the last. So much so that I have purchased the next 5 books in the series. Thank you, Mr. James Oswald, for all your work in giving your character life. An excellent read.
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on 22 August 2017
This book was chosen for a book club read and i had assumed it was just a detective novel, which of course it is, but with a bit of a supernatural twist. I have to admit even with the gruesome start i was hooked from the beginning and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

This is a fast paced story with a good plot, a few twists and turns and interesting characters. I did feel that there was too much description information in some areas and not enough in others. Some of the characters lacked depth and not enough detail to give you a clear picture of who they were.

DI Tony McLean is a likable main character and we actually get to know him quite well but i feel there must be so much more to his back story, there was just too much missing. Not having the full story was a negative for me. Having said that, this is the first in the series so perhaps some of the characters will be more developed as the series continues.

You are left guessing through most of the story and all the twists and turns with regards to the actual story are tied up at the end, but some of the personal details are left unclear and a little confusing. Once again, perhaps all comes together in the other books in the series.

I would recommend this book and i am looking forward to reading the next one in the series.
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on 6 June 2018
Natural Causes

A few years back I picked up a book by James Oswald titled “Prayer for the Dead” featuring Edinburgh detective DI Tony McLean. At the time I wondered if I could enjoy another book featuring an Edinburgh police detective after having read extensively the works of Ian Rankin and Quintin Jardine. As it happened I did enjoy it and as it was at that time the fifth in the series thus far I made a mental note to return to Inspector McLean at some point in the future.

One thing I did note from that book was the references to earlier books so I resolved to let some time pass before returning to the series to allow those references to earlier books to slide from the memory. Now two years laters I have returned to commence the series from the outset.

McLean is the new DI on the block and is struggling to come to terms with the paperwork associated with the role. He is on the periphery of a major investigation into the murder of an established member of Edinburgh’s top social scene. Colleagues do not want his in-put and seem to regard any contribution from him as a personal affront to their abilities.

McLean is left to deal with a different case involving a body discovered in the development of an old house. It’s thought that the body may be from the end of World War II and the likely perpetrator may be dead. His investigation throws up some anomalies which may link to the recent murder but nobody appears to want to listen. In the meantime there are further killings among Edinburgh’s elite.

Oswald highlights throughout his tale how territorial people can be about their areas of responsibility. It’s all very well how liberal philosophers like John Stuart Mill can describe the greater good etc. but when people have their own agenda to promote then the interests of others irrespective of outcome will always come second. How McLean deals with that is an integral part of this truly interesting tale.

A truly good story which endorses my original position of returning to this series. I will look forward to soon reading the next DI McLean adventure.
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on 2 September 2017
If I could give this book 10 stars I would. It's quite brilliant, one of my favourite authors is. Ian Rankin.and James Oswald has almost equalled that with this story. Detective Inspector McLean is a very young Rebus in the making and the story is very dark like so many of Rebus' s cases and also it's set in Edinburgh! I was a little disappointed with the rather abrupt ending and felt it was unexplained so spoilt it for me as I was left feeling confused about the perpetrator and am still unsure as to who the culprit was! However, this has not put me of wanting to read more of these books.
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on 30 March 2017
What a thrilling murder mystery. So many dead bodies kept popping up which kept you wondering who was behind it all. It kept me enthralled from beginning to end. It would make an excellent tv series. First time I have read this author but I'll definitely be buying again.
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